Two landlords of houses in multiple occupation (HMO) in Oxford were convicted of housing offences when they appeared before Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 4 October 2016.
Zahid Ali Rana, 57, of Boundary Brook Road Oxford, was prosecuted after City Council officers investigated a rented house that he owned on Freelands Road in April 2016. That visit identified four unrelated tenants living in the house. The house had neither working fire alarms nor kitchen fire door, and had holes in walls as well as an obstructed fire escape route. In court, Rana pleaded guilty to all charges, receiving fines totalling £5,750 and was also ordered to pay surcharges and council costs of £1,538.
In a separate legal action, the City Council also made a claim to the First-tier Tribunal Property Chamber (Residential Property) to recover housing benefit money Rana had received while managing the unlicensed HMO. On 19 August 2016 the tribunal ordered Rana to pay back £3,460 of housing benefit to the council. A ‘rent repayment order’ is a civil order made by the tribunal requiring a landlord to pay back housing benefit public funds received when they managed or were in control of an unlicensed HMO.
Harold Alexander Kershaw, 66, of Eden Drive, Oxford, was prosecuted after an environmental health officer from the City Council investigated a house that he owned on Coniston Avenue in January 2016. An inspection identified eight unrelated tenants living there. The house had inadequate fire detection and insufficient fire doors. Kershaw pleaded guilty to all charges, receiving fines totalling £2,750 and was ordered to pay surcharges and council costs of £1,250.
Cllr Alex Hollingsworth, Board Member for Planning and Regulatory Services, said: “The City Council will continue to investigate HMOs that are unlicensed and unsafe and ensure that tenants are not exploited by unscrupulous landlords who rent out such properties. Also, landlords must apply for planning permission to convert a single family house to an HMO. If you suspect a property may be an HMO but does not have a licence, you can report it anonymously for us to investigate.”
To report an unlicensed HMO, please visit our website.